The afternoon forecast warned of intermittent rain and dark clouds, but the sun appeared in time to glisten over the waves of blue and yellow covering the grounds of Boom Island Park in Northeast Minneapolis. The Ukrainian community of the Twin Cities came together in droves to celebrate Ukraine’s 31st Independence Day. A day recognized around the world for Ukraine’s defiant breakaway from the Soviet Union on August 24th, 1991. Many in attendance at the picnic were clad in elegant vyshyvanka, handmade flower crowns, and a variety of graphic t-shirts displaying messages of pride and support for the homeland.
The smell of delicious borsch made by amazing chef Vasyl wafted through the air, and good vibrations were felt and heard during live musical sets from the always incredible Ukrainian Village Band, and other talented Ukrainian solo artists. The dances were traditional and upbeat, and the messages over the microphone were a bittersweet combination of solemn, and hopeful. This day of independence happened to fall on the six month mark since the Russia’s renewed aggression on Ukraine on February 24th, 2022, and throughout the day of August 24th, there were bombings, deaths, and acts of terror in Ukraine.
Despite being conscious of the horrors in the news, and recognizing recent events with sorrowful moments of silence, and speeches of resilience, the spirit of the Ukrainian community would not be deterred on this night. There were still reasons to celebrate loud and proud, as one community. The will of Ukraine remains strong today, in the Twin Cities area, and throughout the world. As long as the love and support continues to shine through, everyone knows that in time, the light will conquer the dark.
The picnic fundraiser organized by the Ukrainian American Community Center and Ukrainian Village Band raised $3,500 towards Antityla Medical Evacuation Fund that is raising funds for 10 off-road medical evacuation vehicles that can access distressed areas. If you would like to support this campaign, you can still donate to the cause here: https://donorbox.org/antytila.